He bites the hands that feeds him!
"Why did my dog bite me? I am so nice to him!"
Many owners feel very puzzled, frustrated, and even betrayed, by aggressive behaviour from their own dogs.
This German Shepherd in the picture used to attack anyone who came close to her crate, her owner, her house..,etc.
It was a perception and relationship issue.
Since l had Anja, she never showed any aggression even once about anything. Nothing at all. She is a very gentle, sweet, easy going dog.
I developed a mutually respectful relationship with her since day 1. I did not give her free misplaced affection, l did not just let her free roam; she had lots of structure in her early days; she had to earn her food/affection/treats; she was taught what was right and what was wrong since day 1.
Now, l can trust her completely around dogs, children, people...so she can sleep in my room with me. She has lots of freedom both in and out of my house.
Many dogs bite their owners. It is a very disrespectful behaviour. Usually, the owners are really loving and kind. They are not mean or abusive to their dogs. They often feel very sad and betrayed and will ask themselves, why?
Imagine you have a close friend since childhood who has become your boss one day.
When she tells you to do something you dont want to do, you may object to her and just say "no" - even though she is your boss. It is because deep down you look at her as your best friend and you do not respect her as your boss the way your other co-workers do.
You may be very blunt when you talk to her, because that is how you always talk to her for the last 15 years since you were in grade 3 together. Although your behaviour may undermine her authority but you will not think much of it.
Now, imagine you are brand new in a company. When you meet your boss for the first time, you will not talk to him like he was your best buddy, right?
You will be more polite, respectful, reserved, and you will be more mindful of your behaviour and its consequences.
Even if you become much closer to the boss after a while, there will always be a special kind of respect there. You will not say certain jokes or do certain things in front of this boss although you are now close friends.
This is similar to how a dog perceives his owner.
If we start the relationship by giving a dog lots of freedom and unearned affection/treats, he will look at us like best buddies right off the bet.
Problems arise when you ask him to do something he does not feel like doing. He will object. It does not mean he does not love you, but he just does not perceive you in a respectful way - "who are to tell me what to do?"
With our buddies, we may say things without thinking it through, we may hurt each other's feelings with our jokes, we may take each other for granted and not really show our appreciation, we expect a lot and will get mad when we cannot get our ways...it is a similar mentality with our dogs who view the owners as best buddies.
But if you raise your dog with a clear well defined structure since day 1, your dog will look at you like when that new worker met the new boss.
As he gets to know you, and earns his freedom and reward (like how a worker earns his promotion with his performance), he will get closer and closer and eventually become your buddy.
Nevertheless, he will always have that bit of respect reserved in his heart for you. He will be mindful of your authority and will always respect you.
Structure is a language all dogs understand. We set rules and boundaries, we reward them as they respect and follow these rules, and we hold them accountable as they break them. Dogs dont speak English but they fully understand the language of reward and consequence.
If you do not want to have a dog that growls or even bite you, start your relationship the proper way.
Teach him what you want and what you dont, help him to succeed and reward him for his effort, guide him and show him the ways so he does not become confused. Build his trust in you by being a capable and competent leader, advocate for him so he looks to you for calmness and security.
Do not just lavish him with free-for-all affection and treats for no real reason.
Be the boss before you become the buddy; be that leader your dog learns to look up to and follow before you become his playmate.
Give your dog lots of structure in the beginning so you can give him lots of freedom for the rest of his life.